May 24, 2017

Vol 7 Ed 1

Volume 7 Edition 1 Financial Care Services Newsletter

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Financial Care Services Newsletter by Christine Hopper
Independent aged care, lifestyle and financial advice for seniors

Volume 7 Edition 1 – 31 January 2017

A New Year with some new Centrelink challenges

The Asset Test for Age Pensions and Disability Support Pensions changed on 1 January 2017.

Some seniors continued as Pensioners but at different payment rates. You might have had your Age Pension increased slightly whilst your friend had her Age Pension reduced.
Seniors with substantial asset levels ceased to be Age Pensioners. These former Pensioners might be confronted by the requirement to stop using their Pensioner Concession Cards.

A further impact is no longer being a “pensioner” means you cannot claim “pensioner discounts”. Former Age Pensioners could still buy a “seniors coffee” and claim the “seniors discount” just for being mature aged. But maybe you could no longer in good conscience claim the “pensioner discount” at the hairdresser.

Low Income Health Card holder’s discount rather than a Pensioner Discount for medical and pharmacy

Seniors who became ineligible for the Age Pension because of the change in the Asset Test were to be issued with Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards and Low Income Health Cards. The Low Income Health Cards ensure ongoing access to the discounts on utility bills and motor vehicle registration fees.

Please be aware that utility providers do check with Centrelink to verify that your CRN qualifies for their ‘low income discount’. A smooth transition from Pensioner to Low Income Health Card holder with the same CRN is not guaranteed.

Many general medical practices bulk bill for Low Income Health Card holders. But not every GP practice would bulk bill every consultation; some doctors only bulk bill in off-peak hours. You could be asked to show your new Low Income Health Card the first time you use it for a doctor’s appointment.

In general if the “pensioner discount” is funded by the government for ‘low income households’ then the former Pensioner’s Low Income Health Card would ensure the ongoing discount. You might need to show your new Low Income Health Card to claim ongoing discounts.

Pensioner Discounts for Pensioner Concession Card holders only

For some bills no Pensioner Concession Card means no “pensioner discount”.
Your friendly local Council might require the full charge rate for the ongoing registration of your beloved animal companion if you no longer hold a Pensioner Concession Card. Animal registration fees are discounted for Pensioners.

In Victoria, domestic animal registration renewal notices arrive in March. Remember your municipal Council reserves the right to check your ongoing entitlement to discounts. Your feline might be a Pensioner cat no longer.

The loss of the Pensioner Discount could be more significant when the Council Rates notice arrives in August. Your new budget as a self-funded retiree might need to include the full amount of the Council Rates.

Pensioner exemption from quoting a Tax File Number on a new financial investment

Former Pensioners might need to have a note of their Tax File Numbers (“TFN”) ready for their next investment application. When you sign up  for financial investments your adviser and/or investment manager must ask for your TFN.  But a client who holds a Pensioner Concession Card could be exempt from providing her TFN.

No one will attain Age Pension Age in July 2017

The Age Pension Age increases to sixty five years and six months for people born in July 1952. Therefore no one could attain their Age Pension Age in the second half of 2017. If you have not reached the current Age Pension Age of 65 years by 30 June 2017, then you will need to wait at least an additional six months.

Another increase in the Age Pension Age will be effective in July 2019. The Age Pension Age goes up to sixty six years for people born in 1954. Check your Age Pension Age.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards are for Australian residents who have attained Age Pension Age. The income test for this Health Card is more generous than for the Age Pension. An increase in the Age Pension Age defers the issue of new Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards to new minimum age retirees.

You could still apply for an Age Pension or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card later in 2017 if you were born before July 1952. The challenge is to know if you satisfy the means tests for a Pension or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Financial Care Services offers Short Consultations for ‘personal financial factual information’ to help you check your financial position against the means tests for an Age Pension, DSP, Carer Payment or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

You can start the Short ‘personal financial factual information’ Consultation by emailing for the Financial Care Services Financial Services Guide and Age Pension Data form.
The fee for a Short Consultation 45 minutes in person or by telephone and/or email for ‘personal financial factual information’ is $99.

Financial Care Services your independent financial adviser

Financial Care Services is an independent financial advisory service specialising in retirees of modest means and aged care entrants. Our core values of working with clients in their lifetime financial planning supports claiming DVA and Centrelink entitlements.

Financial Care Services charges fees based on the work involved in advising you about pensions and aged care financial solutions and arranging your investments.

To make an appointment for confidential, independent and professional advice about aged care, retirement lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper  or call +61 3 9808 0338.


Financial Care Services

Christine Hopper
Financial Care Services Pty Ltd
Independent aged care, lifestyle and financial advice for seniors in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Australian Financial Services Licence Number
299570 (check this at
Authorised Representative Number 252529 (check this at

Telephone – call +61 3 9808 0338
Email – contact
Address – mail to 172 Warrigal Road, Camberwell Victoria 3124
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations.

All eligibility for Commonwealth benefits will be determined by Centrelink or DVA, based on your personal position as documented and the legislation and Regulations in force at that time.

© 2017 Financial Care Services Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.